With Summit County's roads, trails and slopes playing host to large crowds of enthusiastic holiday revelers this week, it is especially important to exercise a little extra civility. There were two auto-pedestrian accidents this week -- fortunately neither was life threatening -- and there was a widely reported case of slope-rage reported at a ski resort at Snowbasin earlier this month.
Regarding those traffic accidents, drivers should keep in mind that not everyone knows their way around a roundabout. And, visitors sometimes are so distracted by their new surroundings, they forget to look both ways before stepping off the curb. Add to the mix short hours of daylight and snow banks making narrow shoulders even narrower, and the potential for a tragic accident increases.
Two years ago a seasonal worker was fatally struck by a car as she tried to cross S.R. 224 at nighttime. Her coworkers in Park City and family members from Paraguay were devastated. The accident highlighted how dangerous our dark, snow-covered roadways can be. So please drive sober, avoid distractions (like cell phones) and watch for the unexpected.
On the slopes, follow the Skiers' Responsibility Code. In particular stay in control, yield to uphill traffic when merging onto a run and ski or snowboard well within your abilities. Also, keep an eye out for others who may be in trouble and notify the ski patrol if you see someone who may be hurt. It should also go without saying, if you are involved a territorial dispute on the mountain curb your temper. The teenager you are swearing at may well be wearing a camera and your tantrum could go viral.
If you are recreating on ungroomed, backcountry terrain it is also vital to be aware of the potential for triggering an avalanche, not only for your own safety but for those below you. If you do kick off a snow slide or see one, report it, even if no one is caught in it. That way, rescuers won't respond needlessly and can put their resources where they are really needed.
Most of all, whether you are at a resort or on a public trail, remember the goal is to have a good time. Unfortunately, the pressure to make the most of a hard-earned vacation day or a rare afternoon off can trigger unnecessary confrontations between skiers and snowboarders, between trail users with and without dogs and between motorized and non-motorized backcountry travelers. Certainly there is enough room in our great outdoors for everyone.